"The Lord bless you and keep you"

Bible Reading:
Sacrifices and Offerings Leviticus 5:14-18; 6:1-7; 7:1-10, 37-38; 22:17-30; 24:1-9; Numbers 6:22-27; 28:9-15; Deuteronomy 21:1-9; Exodus 23:18

"The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace" (Numbers 6:24-26 NKJV).

God gave these words to Moses as a means for Aaron and his sons to bless the people. God said that, in doing so, the priests "will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them" (6:27).

"The Aaronic Blessing" also came to be known as "The Blessing of St. Francis of Assisi" after 1224 A.D., when St. Francis penned the passage to encourage one of his close companions, Brother Leo. The written encouragement helped to bring Leo out of a time of depression and temptation in which he felt unworthy of God's peace. For the remaining forty years of his life, Leo always carried with him the well-worn parchment on which the blessing was written.

Today, these familiar words are commonly spoken as a blessing at weddings and as a benediction at church gatherings. They appear on prayer cards, greeting cards, wall plaques, web sites, etc.

We, too, can use words and scriptures such as these to cheer and strengthen others. It may be just what they need to get them through a rough time. I treasure the notes of encouragement that have been given to me through the years. Some of the notes I have saved were written to me thirty years ago. I get them out sometimes when I need a lift, and they still warm my heart and make me feel blessed. It takes so little time to drop a card in the mail or write a quick email, yet I rarely get beyond the initial thought. It blesses me to know when someone is praying for me, yet I forget to let others know that I am praying for them.

When we encourage each other, with spoken and written words, we brighten someone's day, remind one another of God's care and compassion, and give each other strength to press on. Let us endeavor to "encourage one another and build each other up" (1 Thess. 5:11). Let us remember to pray for God's favor, protection, mercy, kindness and peace for those we love. Let us "put God's name on them" (6:27) and do whatever we can to help them look up and picture God's smiling face shining in their direction.

Lord, impress on my heart today someone who needs your peace. Show me what I can do to bring a blessing into their life and point them to you.